Sailing the Pacific on a Journey of Self-Discovery | A Review of Sailing Down the Moonbeam by Mary Gottschalk

cover“. . . The water sparkled, at once crystal clear and midnight black, its color drawn from ebony sap of the lush and stately cypress trees surrounding our little cove. As darkness fell, we fixed pork chops and fresh salad and opened a bottle of wine. The gentle breeze and bright moon in an indigo, star-studded sky made it hard to believe a catastrophic storm waited in the wings.” 

― Mary Gottschalk, Sailing Down the Moonbeam


With a destination loosely defined as the rest of the world, Mary and her husband Tom, leave behind family, friends and successful finance careers in New York City and embark on a five-year sailing adventure. As the voyage takes her farther and farther from traditional support systems, as her world becomes more and more defined by forces outside her control, Mary re-examines what it means to be a daughter, a friend, a professional, and a wife. Her travels through often uncharted waters and remote island communities offer a compelling metaphor for a fascinating journey of self-discovery.

(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)

* * *

My Thoughts:

Mary Gottschalk in her memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam, traverses two journeys — a five-year sailing adventure and a journey of self-discovery. Leaving behind everything they know, Gottschalk and her husband, Tom, decide to put everything on hold and strike out on an adventure most of us never contemplate.

Aboard their vessel, Salieri, Gottschalk not only increases her sailing knowledge but she begins to understand the impact of her childhood on her personality and in her marriage. The difficulties faced on board Salieri from time to time because of equipment and weather are surmounted and dealt with easily.

Yet, the differences between she and her husband which once bound Gottschalk to him begin to rise up and become problematic. The metaphor drawn between their sailing journey and the health of their marriage is beautifully written and done so with compassion and dignity.

Gottschalk’s writing is strong and enjoyable. Her descriptive abilities shine in the characters they meet along the way, the luscious scenery of the Pacific, and even in dialogue among the characters. The quote above is a favorite of mine and shows well the kind of writing I’m talking about here.

My Recommendation: 

For those who are sailors, those who long to be, and those who just dream of traversing the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Gottschalk’s book will not bore you. You will cheer, cry, laugh, and mourn each place they have to leave to complete their travels. This memoir is definitely a winner!

* * *

Meet the Author:

Mary Gottschalk (Image: Amazon)

Mary Gottschalk
(Image: Amazon)

Mary has made a career out of changing careers. Her mantra comes from Ray Bradbury: “Jump off the cliff and grow your wings on the way down!”

After finishing graduate school, she spent nearly thirty years in the financial markets, first in New York, and then in New Zealand, Australia, Central America, Europe, and amazingly, Des Moines, Iowa. Along the way, she dropped out several times. In the mid-80’s, at age 40, Mary and her husband Tom embarked on the three-year sailing voyage that is the subject of her memoir, SAILING DOWN THE MOONBEAM. When the voyage ended, she returned to her career in finance, but dropped out several more times to provide financial and strategic planning services to the nonprofit community in New York and later in Des Moines.

In her latest incarnation, she is working on a novel to come out later this year, writes for The Iowan magazine, and lectures on the subject of “Learning to Love Living Out of Control.”

Connect with the author via her website, Mary Gottschalk and her blog on her website.

(Bio and image via Goodreads)

* * *


Publisher: Rising Sun Press
Published: July 1, 2008
Genre: Memoir
ISBN:  978-0979799723

I received no compensation, either from the author or the publisher, for this review. I own a copy of Sailing Down the Moonbeam.

* * *

Related Links:

UP NEXT:  Friday Favorites coming up! This week I’ll be talking about the wonderful world of Powell’s in Portland, OR. A book lover’s paradise!


Tagged: , , , , ,

12 thoughts on “Sailing the Pacific on a Journey of Self-Discovery | A Review of Sailing Down the Moonbeam by Mary Gottschalk

  1. […] “giving up on marketing.” Mary is the author of a memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam (here is my review) and a recently published novel, A Fitting Place. Having been through the publishing and […]


  2. Mary Gottschalk November 6, 2013 at 6:48 pm Reply

    Sherrey … OMG! I haven’t been on FB much, so just found this through Google Alerts … I am so thrilled, more because you so connected with the spirit of Moonbeam than because you wrote a lovely review (which you did)! Thank you … for so many things besides this review!


    • Sherrey Meyer November 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm Reply

      Oh, Mary, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your story. So similar to my own in so many ways, except I’ve never been a sailboat! I kept reading passages to hubby Bob and I think he’s going to read it now. He was fascinated by the courage and determination I continued to find in each page turn.


  3. krpooler November 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm Reply

    Sherrey, we need to talk soon via email or phone. I’ve been thinking of you as well. I’ll be in touch!


  4. Kathleen Pooler November 6, 2013 at 7:34 am Reply

    Sherrey, you’ve captured the essence of Mary’s spirit of adventure and ultimate transformation so eloquently portrayed in her memoir. How many of us ,at times, wish we could trade it all in and sail around the world? Well, Mary does it and gifts us all with the life lessons learned from the sea.I echo your endorsement.


    • Sherrey Meyer November 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm Reply

      Kathleen, been thinking about you. Our paths haven’t crossed a great deal lately. Good to connect today. Comments here and on Healing by Writing are tending toward the wish to get away, trade it all in, sail away — a common dream for everyone at one point or another, I believe. A really great job of storytelling, writing and sharing the lessons found.


  5. marianbeaman November 6, 2013 at 5:47 am Reply

    I’ve seen Mary’s face in commentary on other blogs. In fact, I think we are even friends on Facebook! I had no idea she has such an adventurous tale to tell. Because of this enticing review, I will definitely log this book into my Must-Read list.


    • Sherrey Meyer November 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm Reply

      Isn’t this an adventurous tale? Marian, you and Cliff might both enjoy this read. Bob is considering reading it. 🙂


  6. tpolen November 6, 2013 at 5:24 am Reply

    Some days I wouldn’t mind leaving it all and sailing away somewhere – wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve ever had.


    • Sherrey Meyer November 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm Reply

      Teri, trust me — some days I feel the same! My husband and I travel through the Columbia Gorge often. Across the river is Washington state, and we’re traveling on the Oregon side. At a bend in the river an hour’s drive away from Portland east, there is an amazing island right in the middle of the river — small dwelling, boat dock, electrical power and water, totally isolated from everything rushed. We often dream of such a place. It was for sale a few years ago; we lacked the $5.5 million needed to buy it. 😦


And what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: